Throughout this campaign Senator McCain has failed to lay out concrete plans on some of the most important national security issues before the U.S. McCain has either adopted an incoherent approach, such as with Iran, where he will attack his opponent’s position in one sentence and then agree with it in the next, or replaced policy proposals with empty platitudes about “not surrendering” and achieving “victory” in reference to Iraq and Afghanistan.
This week General McKiernan, the top commander in Afghanistan, and General David Petraeus made an obvious point: “Afghanistan is not Iraq.” Both insisted that the challenges in Afghanistan are very different than the ones in Iraq and therefore require a very different strategy and approach.
In his last days commanding U.S. forces in Iraq, General Petraeus issued words of caution – the security gains that had been achieved were “tenuous.” The increase in U.S. forces played an important role in creating the decrease in violence, but during this time almost no progress has been made on political reconciliation.
Changes in military tactics can lead to short term gains, but only a comprehensive political strategy to bring Iraq’s warring factions together can lead to a permanent solution to the conflict. One year since the President announced the “surge,” it remains clear that he has no such strategy.
Two months after General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker testified before Congress, the President has still not articulated a clear strategy or explained why the U.S. continues to have approximately 165,000 troops in Iraq.